Ananda Temple: A Grand Masterpiece
The Ananda Temple, situated in Bagan, Myanmar is a Buddhist work of art erected in 1105 AD when King Kyanzittha who belonged to the Pagan Dynasty was in power (i.e. from 1084–1113). It is one of the most well-maintained and revered pieces of Mon architecture. The temple had suffered substantial damage in an earthquake during the year 1975.
Myths or Stories
There are several versions or myths attached to the creation of this temple:
- King Kyansittha had requested eight saints (Arahats) to offer him a design of a religious monument that he was willing to build. The saints had created the image of the Nanda Mula Cave Hall that was located in the Himalayas. The temple that was later built (i.e. the Ananda Temple) – was modeled on that image. It was earlier called Nandamu before it came to be known as the Ananda Temple.
- The Ananta Temple symbolizes one of the greatest attributes of Buddha- “his wisdom”. The Pali word Ananta Panna means the “endless wisdom of Buddha”.
- It is believed that the name was derived from the Sanskrit word Anand that means very beautiful.
The simple corridor temple has a central square that is something around 53 meters along each of the sides with each of the entrances embellished with a stupa finial. The tiles adorning the terraces and the base showcase the life stories of Buddha (Jataka tales) believed to be derived from Mon texts.
There are four statues of standing Buddha, each measuring 9.5 meters. Two lacquer statues at the feet of each of the standing Buddhas, are believed to represent Shin Arahan and King Kyanzittha. Shin Arahan is believed to have introduced the king to Theravada Buddhism.